Frequently Asked Questions
I've heard that my children can now stay on my insurance until they're 26. How soon does that provision go into effect?
After September 23, 2010—whenever your new plan year starts (or your collective bargaining agreement expires), the new rules will take effect. Your child will be able to stay on your plan even if he or she is no longer living with you and is not a dependent. or student.
If you'd like more a more detailed explanation, this website will help: http://www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/8065.pdf
My mother is afraid her Medicare is going to be cut. Is that true?
The new law has no effect on Medicare benefits except for adding some new ones -- such as free cancer screenings and wellness visits. The law also begins the process of closing the "donut hole," -- the gap in Medicare, part D coverage that results in seniors being responsible for 100 percent of costs when their prescription drug usage hits a certain dollar figure.
The only negative effect might be on seniors who are in Medicare Advantage plans. Those plans have been paid more than traditional Medicare pays for the same services in order to guarantee excessive profits for the insurance companies. That unfair advantage will be phased out under the new law. Some insurance companies may decide they want to charge higher premiums or cut services as a result.
I keep hearing about insurance "exchanges." What are they and how are they going to work?
Beginning in 2014, almost everyone will be required to obtain health insurance. Health insurance "exchanges" will be set up by each state to help people choose the product that's best for them. Think of it as similar to today's websites that allow you to comparison shop on hotel rates, auto insurance or other products. The exchanges will be set up by each state and will differ from state to state.
Will my taxes go up?
If you are a married couple with family income of more than $250,000 or a single person making more than $200,000 you will see a slight increase (0.9 percent) in your Medicare payroll taxes. There will also be a tax of 3.8 percent on unearned income from, for example, investments, interest, annuities and rent.. If you don't fall into one of these categories, you won't see an increase in taxes.
If you have a health savings account, you will also see an increased penalty if you withdraw money for anything other than approved medical expenses.
What will happen to my union-negotiated benefits?
Your collectively-bargained benefits will stay exactly as they are until the contract is up and then be re-negotiated as usual and provide the benefits required under the new law.
What is the tax on Cadillac plans?
The so-called "40 percent excise tax" will apply to plans that charge premiums in excess of $10,200 or more for individuals or $27,500 or more for families. Individuals will not be taxed but there is great concern that insurance companies and employers will choose to pass the increased costs along or drop coverage. The labor movement was able to negotiate protections and changes that improved the proposal such as -- raising the threshold for when taxes kick in from the original proposal of $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families, excluding dental and vision benefits from the calculation and postponing when the tax takes effect until 2018. Labor will continue to advocate for improvements during the regulatory process.